“A near-perfect encapsulation of the ’80s synth-pop ethos, with its cool, languid beat, irresistible hooks, and absolutely massive choruses – and made all the more so by her sly vocal aplomb” – BlackBook Magazine
Today, South African born, Brooklyn-based artist Sulene shared her dance-ready new single “photo booth” alongside an accompanying video. The release coincides with the announcement of her upcoming EP, he•don•ic, due out March 5th via Trash Casual. On the synth-driven “photo booth”, Sulene explores the discord of returning to a bad habit even though it’s pulling you down. The song sounds like it’s about a relationship, but is actually centered around her struggles with alcohol addiction and experiencing stigmatic social pressures. The video for the song finds Sulene surrounded by neon lights, singing directly into the camera as she confronts her past. You can watch the video for “photo booth” here and stream the song here.
On writing “photo booth,” Sulene commented:
“I wrote “photo booth” after a show I played. It was such an amazing night, but then I got swept up by my own demons at the after-party. One of the last things I remember was being in a photo booth and the night turning into a mush of laughter, regret, and just giving in.
The song is about the noise in my head caused by the cognitive dissonance of returning to a bad habit even though I know it’s breaking me down. The irony is that once I wrote the song, I knew I had to confront the truth. The next day I started a long period of sobriety and wrote the he•don•ic EP.”
For Sulene, writing he•don•ic was a painful and difficult process, but also one that allowed her to experiment with music in a new way. Exploring a darker side of her character and production, Sulene wrote, recorded, and produced the entire EP out of her apartment in Brooklyn. She also delved into filming and editing her own music videos and artwork, giving a full 360 view of her newest art. The five songs on the EP dive deep into her struggles with alcohol addiction, depression, and hedonic pleasures, and finding a way out of these destructive cycles. Sulene’s dark lyricism is juxtaposed by dancey, sexy beats strewn with synth and guitar that she describes as a “gothic disco party”. This vulnerable meets underground club aesthetic is found on songs like “whiskey.weed.sex.candy” and “identity crisis,” both centered around wanting to do better and if those late nights spent drinking are really worth it. Written at the start of the pandemic, closer “diner coffee” brings a more slowed down, sullen moment to the record as Sulene states “I promise to be useful” – a nod towards needing to create while blocking out depression. With the release of the he•don•ic EP, Sulene is looking to break new ground in 2021 and is poised to be an artist to know.
Growing up in Cape Town, South Africa, Sulene moved to the US at nineteen years old with dreams of starting a career in music. Fast forward a few years and the multi-faceted, Brooklyn-based artist is living out that dream creating her own music, as well as writing scores for film and television, and even finds time to be a touring guitarist. Since 2015, she’s toured stages worldwide as the guitarist for Nate Ruess’ (of fun.) live band, appearing everywhere from Jimmy Kimmel Live! to the East Room of the White House, performing for President Obama. As a multi-instrumentalist, she has written original music and performed on the scores for several TV shows, films, and commercials such as Ray Donovan and The Affair, as well as spots for Nike, Microsoft, Dior, and many more. Though her experience is vast, her newest work speaks the loudest in terms of her unique voice.